ABOUT THE SOURCE

The Source is a modern-day oratorio, and a patchwork of songs based on American primary-source texts. The subject is Chelsea Manning, the US Army Private who infamously leaked hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. 

The text, culled and arranged by librettist Mark Doten, sets Manning's words and sections of the classified material known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary.
 
The music, like the text, draws from diverse sources. Auto-tuned recitatives, neo soul ballads, icy string trios and moments of cracked-out musical theater are peppered with (and sometimes structured around) samples that bridge sonic worlds. 

The Source was premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2014 - in a Beth Morrison Production, directed by Daniel Fish, with video designed by Fish and Jim Findlay - to four sold-out performances and rave reviews. (More about this production below). The Source was released as an album on New Amsterdam Records in October 2015. 

Purchase THE SOURCE
released October 2015 on New Amsterdam Records

NOTE FROM LIBRETTIST MARK DOTEN

Mark Doten

Mark Doten

The central fact of the classified materials that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning leaked is their almost ungraspable scope. They include 483,000 Army field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and 251,000 diplomatic cables; these were released, along with video of a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, by WikiLeaks and its media partners in 2010. The reporting at the time focused less on what the leaks revealed about America’s conduct of wars and diplomacy, than on the personalities involved. 


‘The Source’ prompts dinner table conversation. It offers a fresh model of how opera and musical theater can tackle contemporary issues: not with documentary realism - film and television have that covered - but with ambiguity, obliquity, and even sheer confusion.
— Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times
And as the texts felt cut up, a la Naked Lunch, and reassembled, so did Hearne’s music sound like myriad influences exploded and roughly pasted back together, the work of a true twenty-first century polyglot.”
— Henry Stewart, Opera News

Excerpt from the 2014 production of THE SOURCE at BAM Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn; directed by Daniel Fish, with video design by Jim Findlay and Daniel Fish

ABOUT THE TEXT

The libretto for The Source is made from a patchwork of primary-source documents, including: 

  • The US military documents leaked by Pfc Manning and released by WikiLeaks: these are known as the "Iraq War Logs" and "Afghan War Diary"
  • Internet chats between Manning and former hacker Adrian Lamo, later published by Wired.com (see below for more information)
  • Tweets from Lamo regarding his decision to turn in Manning
  • an array of questions that journalists have posed to Julian Assange
  • selections of interviews, radio, social media and popular music, drawn primarily from the same time period as the leaks

 

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE LIBRETTO

The text for this movement comes from the Afghan War Diary. "Smoke when bird nears" is a phrase that appears after it has been noted that US forces have called for an air evacuation. The music for this movement uses samples from the soundtrack to Alfred Hitchcock's classic film The Birds, as well as a classic American rendition of the song Smoke gets in your eyes.

from movement 1: [EXPLOSIVE HAZARD] This text is drawn from the Iraq War Logs and describes an incident that occurred on December 21, 2007.

from movement 1: [EXPLOSIVE HAZARD]
This text is drawn from the Iraq War Logs and describes an incident that occurred on December 21, 2007.

from movement 1: [EXPLOSIVE HAZARD] This text describes an incident on August 10, 2008 in which 2 Iraqi civilians were killed and 3 were wounded.

from movement 1: [EXPLOSIVE HAZARD]
This text describes an incident on August 10, 2008 in which 2 Iraqi civilians were killed and 3 were wounded.

from movement 4: "s/as boy/as a boy" This text is drawn from the internet chats between Chelsea Manning and Adrian Lamo.

from movement 4: "s/as boy/as a boy"
This text is drawn from the internet chats between Chelsea Manning and Adrian Lamo.

from movement 9: [smoke when bird nears]  

from movement 9: [smoke when bird nears]
 

THE SOURCE - ALBUM RELEASED OCTOBER 2015
produced by Nick Tipp, Jesse Lewis and Ted Hearne
recorded by Jesse Lewis at Avatar Studios (Manhattan) and Systems Two Studios (Brooklyn)

Nathan Koci, music director
Ted Hearne, Mellissa Hughes, Samia Mounts, Isaiah Robinson, Jonathan Woody, vocalists
Courtney Orlando, violin
Anne Lanzilotti, viola
Leah Coloff, cello
Taylor Levine, electric guitar
Greg Chudzik, electric bass
Ron Wiltrout, drums

more information about the musicians